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The scent of azaleas is officially in the air, as the 2023 Masters is now just two weeks away. The best in the world will congregate at the iconic Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, all with the hopes of donning a green jacket on Sunday afternoon.

One of the trendier picks to win the most coveted article of clothing in sports will undoubtedly be Sam Burns. Burns just dominated a loaded field at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play to pick up his first win of the season and his fifth victory in the last 22 months, defeating Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Young on Sunday to close out the tournament.

The 26-year-old is back inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking, but don’t jump on the Burns bandwagon just yet. He doesn’t stand a chance at the Masters.

The 2023 WGC Match Play was a who’s who of elite golfers. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, and reigning champion Scottie Scheffler headlined the loaded field, and they were unsurprisingly the three shortest favorites to win the event. But it was Sam Burns who stole the show.

Burns breezed through group play with a 3-0-0 record after defeating Adam Scott, Seamus Power, and Adam Hadwin. He then upset Patrick Cantlay in the Round of 16 and cruised past Mackenzie Hughes in the quarterfinals to set up a semifinal showdown against Scheffler, his good friend and the hottest player in the world.

Scheffler entered the duel riding a 10-match winning streak at Austin Country Club. The World No. 1 is nearly unbeatable at the WGC Match Play, but no one told Burns that.

The Louisiana native pushed Scheffler to extra holes and made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 21st hole of the match to pull off the upset. He went on to face scorching-hot Cameron Young in the championship match, and he closed it out on the 13th hole.

Burns will enter the 2023 Masters as the champion of the most recent elevated event, and he’ll likely be a popular pick to win his first major. I’m not buying it.

Sam Burns won’t win the 2023 Masters because of his biggest weakness

Sam Burns poses with the trophy after winning the WGC Match Play.
Sam Burns poses with the Walter Hagen Cup trophy after winning the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club | Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

Burns is heading to Augusta National Golf Club as one of the hottest players in the field, but his biggest weakness will hold him back from winning the green jacket.

You see, every golf course on the PGA Tour schedule is different. Some reward the players who can hit their drives the longest. Others emphasize putting and short game. Most of the courses, though, command precise iron play, and that’s especially the case at Augusta.

Augusta National has long been known as a second-shot golf course. You can’t win the Masters unless your iron game shows up to the golf course, and the stats prove it. Six of the last eight Masters winners have ranked fifth or better that week in strokes gained on approach. Ten of the last 11 winners have ranked seventh or better in greens in regulation.

So, let’s check out Burns’ statistical profile.

This season, Burns ranks 34th in strokes gained off the tee, 10th in strokes gained putting, and 38th in scrambling percentage. Solid, right? Well, he also ranks 174th on Tour in strokes gained approach and 175th in GIR percentage. Burns has lost strokes with his irons in four of his last five starts, including at the WGC Match Play. His driver and putter carried him to a victory this past weekend, but that success will be impossible to replicate at Augusta.

Burns made his first career Masters start last season, and he missed the cut after shooting 75 and 74 in the first two rounds. He also entered the tournament after winning his last start at the Valspar Championship, which is a similar situation to the one he finds himself in this year.

Burns is currently +3200 to win the 2023 Masters, which puts him even with Dustin Johnson, Max Homa, and Tony Finau — three elite iron players — on the odds board. If you plan on riding the hot hand with Burns to win the Masters this year, you’d be better off burning your money instead.


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